Reflection: 58 Years of Imamat of His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan

In a world of profound change, Mawlana Hazar Imam’s continuing guidance over 58 years, has helped the global Jamat maintain  balance between the spiritual (din) and the material (dunya) in the harmonious context of the ethics of the faith.

Here we share some of our Imam’s quotes that have been especially meaningful to us, in addition to the extracts from the AKDN Ethical Framework and Preamble of the Constitution of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims.

“Since the 11th of July, 1957 my aims and ambitions have been devoted to help and guide my spiritual children in spiritual and worldly matters …”


– His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan
49th Hereditary Imam of the Ismaili Muslims
Karachi, Pakistan, 13th December 1964

<img class="aligncenter wp-image-125142 size-medium" src="; alt="The new Imam (49th), Prince Karim Aga Khan IV in Switzerland after he succeeded his late grandfather, Aga Khan III (48th Imam). (Photo by Philippe Le Tellier/Paris Match/ Getty Images

“One of the central elements of the Islamic faith is the inseparable nature of faith and world. The two are so deeply intertwined that one cannot imagine their separation. They constitute a ‘Way of Life’.


The role and responsibility of an Imam, therefore, is both to interpret the faith to the community and, also, to do all within his means to improve the quality and security of their daily lives.”


– His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan
49th Hereditary Imam of the Ismaili Muslims
Keynote Address at the Tutzing Evangelical Academy,

Tutzing, Germany
20th May 2006

Discover, Explore and Learn more at AKDN | Address by His Highness the Aga Khan to the Tutzing Evangelical Academy Upon Receiving the “Tolerance” Award (Tutzing, Germany)

His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan, 49th hereditary Imam of Shia Ismaili Muslims directly descended from the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.), at the newly opened Aga Khan Park, Toronto. (Photo: AKDN/Anya Campbell

“As the 49th Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims, I often look back to the words of the Fourth Caliph, who was also the first Imam of the Shia Muslims, Hazrat Ali ibn Abi Talib.


Listen to Hazrat Ali’s words: “No honour is like knowledge. No belief is like modesty and patience. No attainment is like humility. No power is like forbearance. And no support is more reliable than consultation”.


– His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan
49th Hereditary Imam of the Ismaili Muslims
Address at the State Banquet, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
August 18, 2007

Discover, Explore and Learn more at AKDN | His Highness the Aga Khan at the State Banquet during the Golden Jubilee visit to Tanzania

Research, Insight & Perspective by A. Maherali

The AKDN Ethical Framework

The central emphasis of Islam’s ethical ideal is enablement of each person to live up to his exalted status as vicegerent of God on earth, in whom God has breathed His own spirit and to whom He has made whatever is in the heavens and the earth, an object of trust and quest.

Service of God is not only worship, but also service to humanity, and abiding by the duty of trust towards the rest of creation. Righteousness, says the Quran, is not only fulfilling one’s religious obligations. Without social responsibility, religiosity is a show of conceit. Islam is, therefore, both din and dunya, spirit and matter, distinct but linked, neither to be forsaken.

Discover, Explore and Learn more at the AKDN Ethical Framework

The Preamble of “The Constitution of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims”

(D) The authority of the Imam in the Ismaili Tariqah is testified by Bay‘ah by the murid to the Imam which is the act of acceptance by the murid of the permanent spiritual bond between the Imam and the murid. This allegiance unites all Ismaili Muslims worldwide in their loyalty, devotion and obedience to the Imam within the Islamic concept of universal brotherhood. It is distinct from the allegiance of the individual murid to his land of abode.

Mawlana Hazar Imam ordaining the Ismaili Constitution. (Image: Canadian Ismaili March 1987)

(F) Historically and in accordance with Ismaili tradition, the Imam of the time is concerned with spiritual advancement as well as improvement of the quality of life of his murids. The imam’s ta‘lim lights the murid’s path to spiritual enlightenment and vision. In temporal matters, the Imam guides the murids, and motivates them to develop their potential.

Constellation of Honors

The Constellation represents the various appointments, awards, honours, and tributes His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan has been endowed with over the course of his 58 years Imamat.

The matrix in summary:

  • 28 Title & State Decorations;
  • 21 Honorary Degrees from universities representing the US Ivy League, Canadian Group of 13, UK’s Russell Group, and others;
  • 16 Civic Honours including Honorary Citizenship of Canada and several “Key to the City” & “Freedom of the City”;
  • 12 Fellowships and Executive Appointments representing 9 investures as Foreign Member to several state academies (for the creation of new knowledge – promoting research and stimulating the enhancement of thought, literature, language and other forms of national culture) and 3 Leadership posts at influential European Institutions to promote diplomacy, culture and development;
  • 30 Awards spanning domains such as architecture and the built environment, restoration and the revival of culture, education, health, diplomacy and peace, philanthropy, sports, corporate enterprise;
  • 73 Keynote/Presidential Addresses to various UN organizations, several government organizations including parliaments, and other international organizations; and
  • 54 Commemorative Stamps issued by 11 different National Philatelic Societies to mark the Aga Khan’s significant events and milestone.

Click image below to learn more

Aga Khan's Constellation of Accolades - Over 200 honors from 50 countries and counting …
Click the image for the latest edition of the Matrix and details on the Constellation of Honours – His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan IV



  1. The content of this post is exclusively written for Ismailimail. No distribution is permitted without permission. Contact the blog owners at if you are seeking permission to reproduce the material.

Recommended stories on Aga Khan IV :

Recommended stories on Aga Khan III:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.